December 4, 2015
FEELING THE STING
Florida State Seminoles upset by Duke Blue Devils
CARY, N.C.--Florida State’s fifth consecutive College Cup appearance ended in disappointment as the Seminoles fell, 2-0, to Duke before a crowd of 11,676 in the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Championship at WakeMed Soccer Park Friday night.
The defending champion Seminoles (18-3-4) had a tournament record 931-minute shutout streak snapped, after blanking 10 opponents over two years since falling in the 2013 final.
“It stings a little bit,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “Because you come into this with the intent and hope to play on Sunday and we won’t. I thought for much of the game we played quite well, but today we lost to a team that played better than we did.”
The Seminoles, who were held to a 0-0 tie by the Blue Devils (14-5-5) Sept. 20, surrendered goals to Kayla McCoy in the 32nd minute and Toni Payne in the 90th minute.
Payne set up the opening goal, running from the right sideline, drawing the defense and slipping a pass to McCoy, who beat a defender and sent a low, angled shot past Cassie Miller.
“We had good numbers in good places,” Krikorian said. “We just couldn’t make a play.”
Duke mostly stayed in a defensive shell, playing for counterattacks. FSU had several chances early but rarely threatened in the second half. Payne scored on a break in the closing seconds, making a run from the center circle and finishing from the edge of the penalty area.
“I did think that we had enough good looks that maybe we could’ve scored a goal,” Krikorian said. “If we score one, I think the second one would come. But you have to be lethal, especially when your chances are limited.”
Duke, which upset Florida and Stanford on the way to the College Cup, will play Penn State at noon Sunday for the championship.
Senior Cheyna Williams, FSU’s leading scorer, said the team will use the result as motivation.
“I told (freshman Megan Connolly) when we were walking up here to remember how it feels,” Williams said, fighting back tears. “Because you’ve got three years to make it happen.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow because obviously we wanted to come out and play in the final game. But I’ve had a great two years. I learned more than I ever thought I could. More than imaginable.”
Williams transferred from Vanderbilt two years ago and is part of a five-member senior class Krikorian said might rank as the best he’s had.
Florida State’s seniors -- Williams, defenders Carson Pickett and Megan Campbell and midfielders Isabella Schmid and Michaela Hahn -- won a national championship and three ACC titles, losing the 2013 NCAA final to UCLA in Cary.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Pickett said. “We all dropped to our knees the same exact way. It’s definitely motivated us. And this freshman class is amazing and they’re going to do great things.”
“They’re certainly going to be missed for much more than just their performance on the field,” Krikorian said. “They bring a lot to the locker room. They’re outstanding students and outstanding citizens in the community.”
On the back line, captain Kirsten Crowley and Miller return.
“Obviously it’s tough now,” Connolly said. “But I’ll try to use that to spur me on next year.”